Amazon has a market value of over $250 billion, making it one of the largest retailers in the world. Whether it's the convenience of online shopping, the deals or the selection, people just seem to love Amazon.
The deals you find on Amazon get even better when you are a Prime member since everything you order comes with free shipping. But are non-Prime members not being treated fairly when it comes to pricing?
There are 63 million Amazon Prime members in the U.S., which is nearly 52 percent of its customers. Free shipping, a large catalog of movies and TV shows to stream, unlimited photo storage and streaming music are just some of the benefits of being an Amazon Prime member.
Unfortunately, a recent investigation found that non-Prime members might not always see the lowest product prices when they search for an item. ProPublica says Amazon's price comparison pages favor items sold by Amazon or through its Fulfilled by Amazon program. That's when a seller pays Amazon to warehouse and ship the products that they sell.
You have to hunt for lowest prices
ProPublica says the Amazon price comparison tool works for Prime members and customers that order more than $49 worth of items and get free shipping. For everyone else, the price comparison tool doesn't always result in showing the lowest price first. You need to hunt through the search results to see the best deals.
The study revealed that Amazon items, or items sold by companies in the Fulfilled by Amazon program, show up at the top of a search. This occurred nearly 75 percent of the time, even if other sellers offer the product at a cheaper price.
This is happening because rankings on Amazon's price comparison pages show the full price of items sold by third-party merchants. The full price includes the cost of the item along with the cost of shipping.
However, items sold by third-party merchants in the Fulfilled by Amazon program are ranked without shipping costs included. This could make them look like better deals than they actually are for non-Prime members who don't qualify for free shipping.
Amazon responded to the study by saying its sorting algorithms are designed for products where shipping costs don't apply. It went on to say 90 percent of products ordered on its site do not have shipping costs. That's because products are ordered by Prime members or qualify for free shipping when the customer orders over $49 worth of merchandise.
Non-Prime members are able to find the lowest prices, it just takes a little extra research. Free shipping isn't the only benefit of being a Prime member, here's a list of perks you might not know about.